This year's cultural exchange at The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival promises to be special. As festival producer Quint Davis put it, Cuba comes to Jazz Fest! Davis says it's a project that has taken time and resources. "We been working on this for two years," he explained. "We went to Senator Landrieu's office in Washington to say we want to do this. [...] We're bringing 150 people from Cuba. That means 150 visas and interviews, which has never been done."
Students from Cuba's top music academy will present a free concert of big band jazz with a Cuban accent in New Orleans on Thursday (Jan. 5). The nonprofit group Horns to Havana says the 14-member high school jazz band from Havana's Conservatorio Amadeo Roldan will be in town Monday through Jan. 10 for a jazz and cultural exchange program with the Preservation Hall Foundation.
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Besides the opportunities to play with and learn from Cuban musicians, Jaffe says that the PHJB plans to share their New Orleans musical history – “People in New Orleans still dance to jazz. We play jazz at our funerals” – with their hosts.
The US Mission in Pakistan brought the band from New Orleans, Louisiana to play at events and participate in musical exchanges in Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad. The band’s visit to Pakistan hopes to answer the call from many Pakistanis to see more American exchanges in the country and promote cultural understanding.
President Barack Obama is aiming to underscore his commitment to a region weary of calamity as he travels to New Orleans on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.